Monday, September 12, 2011

Andrew's first day of "school"

Andrew started school last week!

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Okay, let's revisit that. Andrew started "school" last week. He will be spending two days per week in the older one-year-old class at our church's preschool, William's alma mater.

However, he has teachers, a backpack and a lunchbox..

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There's a class directory, plans for a Christmas party and an upcoming Back to School night. So, if you ask me, that's school.

And there's even a classroom pet: Bugsy the Guinea Pig:

Andrew adores Bugsy. He's a dog person at heart, but he has an affinity for most furry animals.

I have to admit that I've been so consumed with worry over William's new school and all the, ahem, issues I've had that I didn't really spend much time thinking about Andrew starting school. Or "school." I did give in to the urge to get all his stuff embroidered with his name, of course.

But then, all of a sudden, it was Andrew's first day in his new classroom. His first classroom! Luckily, it's also the room that he often visits on Sundays when we go to church. That helped. He was familiar with the room, which was reassuring to both of us.

I was all prepared for him to cling tightly to me and bury his face in my knees, as he so often does. He's never been very good at transitions, and usually I have to peel him off my body so I can leave.

Well! Andrew was full of surprises. I put him down in his classroom, as I prepared to sign the class sign-in sheet. He stood there for about three seconds, waffling as to what he should do, and then I swear, he almost shrugged and just toddled off to check out the toys.

Just like on William's first day of school last month, I braced myself for some tears--from one of us, at least--and they never came. So I shrugged and said goodbye and left the classroom. Andrew's classroom has a two-way mirror on one wall, so I stepped into the darkened office adjacent to his classroom and peered at him through the mirror. But he didn't miss a beat after I left. He just continued to toddle around and investigate everything. Even the wailing from the little girl who arrived after him didn't seem to faze him. I breathed a sigh of relief and ventured out.

I guess if I'd had more time and energy to worry about him, I would have worried more about him. But I didn't, and as it turns out, I didn't need to, after all. Well, good. One less thing for me to feel guilty about!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

New stuff to worry about

When William was a baby, there were so many times that I wished that he would just get older already--because, I imagined, surely things would get easier as he got older.

Well. William did get older. Some things did get easier, too. Now that he's five years old, I pretty much only have to do his laundry and cook his dinner and remind him to please grab his backpack/lunchbox/hat/jacket. He dresses himself, feeds himself, makes his own bed, goes to the bathroom himself, gets himself in and out of the car and booster seat, brushes his own teeth, and puts his own dishes in the dishwasher. Not all at the same time, of course.

However, I now face a whole new set of challenges as his parent. Now I am responsible for helping him learn how to read. I may not have to wipe his bottom, but I do have to make him sit down with a book and help him sound out words, and holy geez, let me tell you exactly which one is exponentially harder and takes longer.

To complicate that situation, William actually can read a fair number of words. But he insists that he caaaaaaan't, and then he flops around in a histrionic fashion and bemoans how he caaaaaan't, he caaaaaan't, he caaaaaan't. And then I have to sit on top of him, and, OH THE DRAMA. It does not seem to do much good to remind him that 1) the Great Pyramids weren't built in a day (he's currently fascinated by ancient Egypt, so we're going with that reference here instead of Rome), and 2) he had to learn to ride a tricycle before he could ride a bike. He seems to think that if he can't read, say, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, he's not really reading.

Plus, the surrounding issues are more complicated now. Everything involving his education is now much more complex. Once upon a time, I just dropped him off at preschool with a lunchbox and a nap mat, and that was that. Now, I have worry about whether his teacher got the note about him taking the school bus home from school. And then I have to worry about what happens if I accidentally miss the bus and no one is there to meet him at the bus stop. I find myself worrying about the fact that no one's around to intervene at lunchtime or recess if someone starts to get him all riled up and agitated. I fret about whether he's going to get enough individual attention to encourage him to, yes, work harder at reading. I fret that he adores math but what if his teacher doesn't have enough time to work with him and nurture that affinity? I fret that he's the only Encore kid in his class, and what if the other kids make fun of him for being the smart kid? (Because let's face it, the smart kid always gets picked on at some point for being smart, not that I have any residual leftover post-traumatic stress syndrome about that. Nope, not me.) Argh.

It almost makes raising Andrew seem easy. Almost. Andrew has a mind of his own, too, and he has very definite Opinions now. But luckily, most of that seems pretty straightforward in comparison. Andrew's a little daredevil, it's true, but he can mostly be contained with doorknob safety handles, car seat straps, safety gates, and keeping a sharp eye on him at all times when he's not inside. Mostly contained.

Do not tell me that it continues to get harder, please. I'm going to stick my head in the sand for awhile and pretend that this is as hard as it ever gets. Please leave me to my delusions. Thanks.

Friday, September 02, 2011

The Magic Toy

Do you have a Magic Toy at your house?

What's a Magic Toy? It's a toy that is absolutely guaranteed to enthrall your children. Every time. No exceptions (or very, very few). They never get tired of it. It's...magic.

For William, it was the Batcave. He received the Batcave for Christmas from Santa in 2009. It became our go-to toy. He always was happy to play with it. It went on all our trips with us. Whenever friends came over to visit, he immediately brought them over to show off the Batcave. And the Magic was transferable, amazingly enough. Two-year-old boys loved it. Six-year-old girls loved it. They all loved it.

It no longer is quite that all-encompassing anymore, but you know, he still really loves to play with it. It might not be a Magic Toy, per se, but it was a Magic Toy for a really long time, and it's still a Pretty-Close-to-Magic Toy even now. Andrew discovered it when he started crawling, and he often sits over there by the Batcave and tinkers with it for quite a long time. Oh yes, the Batcave still has some of that old magic.


The Batcave may have a little competition now.

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Like many other toddlers, Andrew has discovered Sesame Street. He doesn't watch the television show yet, but he has discovered a deep affinity for Elmo and Cookie Monster and the rest of the gang.

One morning, I discovered a little Sesame Street village toy in Target and showed it to Andrew, only to have him seize the village like his life depended on it. I pried it out of his hands, only to have him begin loudly sobbing. The next time we went to Target, I decided, "Ah, what the heck" and bought it for him. The way I see it is that almost all of his toys are hand-me-downs. What will it hurt for him to get something new every so often?

Plus, the village came with Elmo and Cookie Monster, his faves!

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I picked up a package with Ernie and Bert, too, because, okay, yes, Ernie is my lifelong favorite, and there cannot be a Sesame Street without Bert and Ernie. At least not at my house.

We got home, and I wrestled the toy out of its packaging. I set it on the floor. Andrew was, yes, entranced. He settled down to play. And play. And play. And now, whenever we come home from someplace, he immediately runs off to check on his Sesame Street toy. Eventually, he always comes toddling back over to me, with Cookie Monster and Elmo in hand (see picture above), saying happily, "El-bah! El-bah!" (His pronunciation for "Elmo.") Then he scampers back to his toy, where he plays, plays and plays some more.

William is not immune to its charm either, despite his sophisticated five-year-old self. Nothing is better than when he sits down next to Andrew and plays with the village with him. In fact, William has begun lobbying for me to buy the Sesame Street fire truck to go with the village. "It comes with Grover," he told me, adding quite reasonably, "We really need Grover."

William has also tried to cajole me into buying a set of figures that comes with both Cookie Monster and Telly. "But we already have a Cookie Monster," I pointed out.

"Yes, but we don't have Telly," he argued. "We need Telly. And it wouldn't hurt to have a back-up Cookie Monster, just in case."

My child, the future lawyer. Still, would it really be a bad thing to have a back-up Cookie Monster? I mean, given how much Andrew adores him, and all, and it's a good thing to be prepared for emergencies, right? A Cookie Monster emergency could happen. It could.

Hmmm. Perhaps the Sesame Street village has begun to pull me under its magic spell, too...